Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Wow! What a busy month this has been. Let’s see, we started out with a very typical 4th of July barbeque…potato salad, baby-back ribs complete with KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce, nachos with melted Velveeta cheese and chilies, American hot dogs, Diet Cokes, we had it all! Our friends Larry and Shelly really know how to throw a party!

On Saturday, 07/07/07 we attended another cookout at John and Vera’s gorgeous house just outside of San Terenziano. We saw old friends and met lots of new ones….even met two families who live in Monte Castello di Vibio. One of the families knew our friend Frank, and were surprised and saddened to hear that he had died last November. Franks girlfriend Clara lives right next door to this couple, and when he stopped coming around they didn’t to ask Clara why. Adding to the ‘it’s a small (expat) world’, this couple, from Canada, has also been in email contact with our neighbors in San Venanzo, also from Canada!

We also had a visit that same week from a real estate agent in Todi about the possibility of listing our house. We seem to be in a difficult position: we thought the fact that our house was affordably priced would be a bonus, especially with the weak dollar, but apparently that’s not true. Maybe people like us, people of just ‘average’ means have been scared away by the state of the dollar, leaving the super-rich in the market for fabulous villas with equally fabulous prices. Additionally, most agents would rather spend their valuable time trying to sell a villa costing €1,000,000 rather than our house costing just €195,000. Not that I can blame them, but still……….

We were lucky enough to have a visit from our friends Brad and Palma who were visiting Tuscany and Umbria. We know Brad and Palma from the Slow Trav message board but had never met in person. Not surprisingly, we felt as if we’d known them forever and had a wonderful time. Palma brought us some surprises in addition to the chicken bullion I’d requested. She opened up her bag and pulled out one surprise after another: green chilies, flour tortillas, CHEDDAR CHEESE!

A few days later our friends Franco and Cristine arrived for lunch and we continued the discussions we’d been having when we’d had lunch with them a few weeks before. Then our friends Marguerite and Greg (and kids Joanna and Adam) arrived for a few weeks in the newly renovated apartment in Panicale. After having seen the ‘before’ in December, we were anxious to see the finished result….and of course to catch up with everything else that was going on with them.

The next week brought Pauline and Steve, the queen of Slow Trav and her prince, to San Venanzo! Because Slow Trav is where it all started for us, and because Pauline and Steve have followed our adventure every step of the way, it was nice to finally be able to show them our house and town in person! We had a great dinner with them, and caught up on all the Slow Trav news!

Just two days later we attended a Slow Trav GTG, (get together) at a lovely agriturismo just outside of Assisi. I guess there were over thirty of us, and we met expats, native Italians and vacationers, all part of the ST family.

On Saturday Marguerite called to ask if we’d like to drive to Panicale to see the apartment and to check out a great restaurant they’d discovered. The restaurant sounded like one we’d been to with Wendy several years ago, but Marguerite’s promise of good food and cheap prices made it a winner in any event.

The apartment had undergone an amazing transformation over the past few months, and even though there are still things to be done (countertops in the kitchen, paint on the walls) we were impressed! The restaurant turned out to be the one we thought it was, and the food was indeed delicious and cheap!

The very next day we had company for lunch…Shelly, John and Vera came for lunch. Art grilled steaks and we enjoyed the break in the weather and nice breeze on the patio.

Art’s birthday week has been busy! He’s gotten cards, emails and phone calls all week long. All the cards mailed from the states (all from different locations) arrived in FOUR days. I wish we’d been as lucky with the television stand we purchased and shipped to the friend of a friend! (it was returned to our Post Office, supposedly because it didn’t have the correct documentation with it. It’s now on it’s way again, and according to the tracking information at least it’s in the U.S.)

Of course over the past few weeks there have been many early mornings and lots of late nights, all related to the weather. The early mornings were for taking pictures of sunflowers…not to get the perfect light, but more to avoid the heat of the sun. After 10 a.m. it’s really hot standing in a field of sunflowers in the full sun, surrounded by the buzzzzzzzz of the bees. The late nights have been because of the many events we’ve attended, both in San Venanzo and elsewhere. Nothing starts before 9:30 and in the summer it’s normal for everyone to be out and about until midnight or later, just because no one has air conditioning and outside is where it’s coolest.

Yesterday we had a barbeque for Art’s birthday. It’s become our tradition, with Art doing the honors at the grill. He made his now-famous barbeque sauce for the ribs, and I tried a new lemon juice, honey and soy sauce marinade for the chicken.

The food of course was Art’s choice. To accompany the grilled meats we had Greek Pasta Salad, grilled eggplant, sliced tomatoes (from our garden!), then for dessert, Key Lime Pie and Strawberry Sformato…the last a new recipe I wanted to try.

The dinner went well, although I’m not sure the sformato was a keeper. It was good…light and refreshing, but just didn’t have the big bang you should get when using fresh strawberries.

Are received some wonderful gifts, most of which I’ll be able to share with him…a book about Umbria, several bottles on interesting liquor, including one liqueur made from artichokes!, and wine accessories. I’d brought a CD/DVD of
ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL back from the states for him, and that’s something both of us will enjoy as well.

And now here we are, well into August and things haven’t calmed down much, but at least the weather’s nicer…we’re back to 80º’s in the day, and nice cool nights. Of course we had the Rotecastello festa, visits with our neighbors from Bologna, more visits to Panicale one for dinner with tacos and Spanish rice...what a treat!, a cookout with American expat friends new and old, and now, the most amazing, albeit secret! news of all….I have a job! Shhhh…it’s a secret! I’m cooking breakfast for a group of 13 Americans staying at a nearby villa, and tomorrow I’ll be preparing lunch for them as well! Cash in hand! Yeah!!!! Don't tell!


At 8/14/2007 02:14:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Belated Birthday Art!!!


Palma abd Brad

At 8/14/2007 11:46:00 PM , Anonymous Carole D. said...

What a wonderful and fun summer you've had. I wish I was in your shoes! Maybe, in the near future.

Can't wait to read about the (secret job).

At 8/18/2007 03:33:00 PM , Blogger Pauline Kenny said...

Barb and Art, thanks for inviting us to see your house and town - we had a lovely evening. The house is great and so is the town - a very friendly and fun place. Dinner at the local hotel restaurant was excellent! After all these years of reading your blog, it was exciting to see it all in person.

At 8/19/2007 03:27:00 AM , Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline and Steve, we owe so much to you! We're so glad we were finally able to show you what we've been talking and writing about for years1 We enjoyed being able to sit and talk with you at length, and hope you know you're welcome here any time!


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